The first weekend of May. Something is definitely cooking in Food Studios headquarter at Lilleborg. Chef Shay Ola brought his creative pop up concept The Rebel Dining Society to Oslo. He has not only decided to pair one bespoke cocktail with each dish he is serving, he wants the guest to make the drinks themselves – safely guided by Bar Boca mixologist Anders Ugmod. The bottles Anders places on each table have tags with alluring handwritten names; cava syrup, carbonated whisky, pepper infused aquvitae… liquids we’d surely struggle to rattle up in the average bar.
The ideas behind the food are Shays, but the fresh, natural produce come from the finest farms and suppliers around Oslo. Or found, like the stingy, devilish nettles he and the crew from Food Studios bravely picked on the royal land of Bygdøy. Guests are meeting and drinking bubbles in the sun. In the kitchen the heat is on. The elkmeat is tender and ready to fry. Raw reindeer, fresh cod and handfished scallops are waiting to be included in a five course taster menu, each dish paired with a cocktail carefully planned by Anders. The nettles finally lost their battle, and are boiling peacefully in a pan.
Question is: Does deer carpaccio with chocolate and beetroot have anything in common with sweet vermouth and bourbon? Do scallops with caramel want to play with a bubbly whisky cocktail? The guests are seated, eager to find out.
Our table quickly split itself into two excited teams, DJ Espen Hagestrand creating the perfect backdrop for a friendly and perhaps even slightly messy competition. We shake, we stir, swirl and giggle; trying to hit the perfect alcoholic balance, learning that even by using measure cups, the same cocktail turns out very different depending on the maker… Yummy food comes and disappears with each new drink adventure. The food and drink combinations turns into fun discussions, our voices growing louder, the music even louder, strangers become friends. The night is all about sharing, about investigating how food and drink can complement each other in new and exciting ways. The sun outside is replaced by burning candles, and in the studio the air is bubbly and warm. Someone suddenly says that the vorspiel is coming to an end, when Tim Varney puts a final spin on the menu with a cold, frothy coffee from Tim Wendelboe. Not sure if it was the food, the sherry or the aquavit, but going home is on no ones agenda. We roll out into the night, high in spirit – and with a slight feeling that this kind of vorspiel may be a thing of the future.
RDS COCKTAILS RECIPES
5 CL London Dry Gin
2 CL Dry Vermouth
1 CL Belvoir Elderflower Cordial
Add all ingredients except the lemon twist to a cocktail shaker.
Add ice and shake hard until chilled, about 12-16 seconds. Strain into a chilled coupe.
Garnish with the lemon twist.
Mad Hatter Manhattan
4 CL Black Pepper and Thai Chili Infused Sweet Vermouth
2 CL Bourbon
2 Dashes Angostura Bitters
Add all ingredients to a chilled stirring glass (or a chilled Chemex Brewing Glass!)
Add ice and stir gently until chilled, 30-40 seconds.
Strain into a chilled coupe, coffee cup or tea cup.
Black Pepper and Thai Chili Infused Sweet Vermouth
Crush 1/3 cup of whole black pepper. Add to a pan and toast over medium heat until fragrant, 3-5 minutes. Take the pan off the heat and add 1 litre of sweet vermouth.Let infuse for 2-3 hours.
The last 5 minutes of the infusion time, add 3 crushed, dry Thai Chilis. Strain through a fine mesh strainer, bottle and store chilled.
Will keep for 2 weeks.
Bubbly Whiskey Cocktail
1 CL Cava Syrup
3 CL Carbonized Irish Blended Whiskey
Add Irish Whiskey to a soda syphon. Seal and chill in the freezer for 1 hour.
Add Cava Syrup to a chilled, small glass.
Carefully top off with carbonized
Add 1 bottle of cava(75 CL) and 15-20 CL sugar to a pan.
Simmer over medium to high heat until reduced to about 1/4.
Add more sugar if you desire a sweeter syrup.
Let cool, bottle and store chilled.
Will keep for 2-3 weeks.
4 CL Pepper Infused Aquavit
2 CL Amontillado Sherry
2 CL Lemon Juice
2 CL Simple Syrup (60:30 ratio of Sugar:Water)
1 CL Egg Whites
1 Bar Spoon Cowberry Jam
Add all ingredients to a shaker. Dry shake (without ice) for 5-10 seconds to whip the egg whites. Add ice and shake hard until chilled, 12-16 seconds.
Double strain into a chilled flute glass.
Pepper Infused Aquavit
Crush 1/3 cup of whole black pepper. Add to a pan and toast over medium heat until fragrant, 3-5 minutes. Take the pan off the heat and add 1 bottle (70 CL) of Aquavit.
Infuse for 1 hour. Strain through a fine meshed strainer and bottle.
Text: Tina Vetterhus Aasen
Photography: Christoffer Johannesen
DJs: Lars Inge Spydslaug, Phuc Tan Nguyen and Espen Hagestrand